Monday, November 14, 2011
Women’s Health: The Risk of Supplements
For many Americans, popping a daily multivitamin feels as natural as tooth brushing or hand washing. Despite a lack of support by the FDA, we seem to view supplements as an easy way to fit in nutrients that we might not get through diet alone. Unfortunately, there is a darker side to this way of thinking.
According to a recent study conducted by nutritional epidemiologists at the University of Minnesota, a woman’s risk of death increases relative to her vitamin intake despite marketing claims to the contrary. This research suggests supplements work against their designated purpose and, in fact, do more harm than good.
The study, which took place over two decades, broke down the varying risks associated with different supplemental vitamins while adjusting for other lifestyle factors such as weight, smoking, blood pressure, diet, and exercise. The odds of death (in older women especially) increased regardless of these factors, which adds support for the researchers’ findings.
Copper, for example, was associated with a 45% increased risk of death while zinc only increased the risk by 8%. Iron was associated with a 10% greater risk and folic acid 15%. Perhaps it comes as a surprise then that calcium was the one supplement shown to have a positive effect on a woman’s lifespan.
This research suggests that otherwise healthy women would be wise to ditch the supplements and strive to eat a balanced diet that incorporates all the vitamins their bodies need, naturally.